I chose to observe Reform Judaism at the Anshe Chesed Fairmount Essay

I chose to observe Reform Judaism at the Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio.

The service takes place on Shabbat a jewish holiday that happens every week starting on friday evenings and ending on Saturday evenings. Shabbat celebrates the creation of the world and offers respite. As far as manners of dress on Fridays are semi-casual that being jeans, polos and blouses (no sweat pants, spaghetti straps, or visible tattoos). Saturdays you are supposed to dress in dress pants and dress shirts or skirts and blouses.

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Formal dress such as suits and dresses are reserved for High-holidays. As an observer I was more than welcomed to take place in most all parts of the sirve and sit with the other congregation members, however it was asked that i should not touch the torah when it was walked around. When entering it was a friday evening service i was greeted by an usher who asked if it was my first time here and if I needed any help, i told him it was and that being pointed in the direction of the main sanctuary.

Near the lobby entrance was a closed shop that when open would sell books of prayer, toys candles and things such as Kippot, Kippot is the plural for Kippah, these are head covers worn during worship while traditionally worn by men it is now extended to all in congregation, even non-members may wear one as a sign of respect. The main sanctuary which was a beautiful and large sanctuary with white walls that had tall rectangular windows with colored glass in them. There where long rows of pews. At the end of the sanctuary was a wooden podium and behind it a beautiful structure with curtains on the front of it, I later learned with was called the Ark and it housed the Torah scroll. When entering the main sanctuary a usher offered me a Kippot to wear, at the time I did not know if I should wear one or not but he kindly explained that it was a respectable practice to wear one during services so i chose to wear one. The service started with the Shema which are the reading of passages that describe the unifying principles of judaism. Then there is the Borchu which works as a call to prayer and it leads into the reading of the Torah. After the Borchu the congregation stands for Amidah, the most important part of the ceremony. they pray as the Torah is brought out and walked around the congregation, they will touch the ends of the Torah with their Siddurs (prayer books, these can be found in the pews but some have their own) or there Tallitots (A cloth resembling a shawl, this is a prayer shawl that is reserved for Shabbat but some wear it for the High-Holidays). The reason for this is because Torahs are fragile some being very old, this avoids oil getting on the Torah itself. It was also later explained to me touching the Torah was good luck and a blessing. Once the Torah has been walked around it will be placed on the podium and undressed, once this is done everyone sits down again. The reading from the Torah are in Hebrew instead of english because the original Torah was in hebrew and this helps keep the tradition of it. After the reading the congregation stands as the Torah is dressed and returned to the ark. After this is the Aleinu which is a prayer that invisions a perfect world where all nations are unified. Second to last Mi Shebeirach a healing prayer for the sick and their recovery. The last part of the service is The Mourners Kaddish which is a prayer that blesses those who have passed recently and there names are read out loud. After the service ends i was greeted by the family sitting next to me, they lead me to a room filled with other congregation members and refreshments. We had a conversation about why I was there as I was a new face, after I explained my reason the father was more than happy to explain to me the different types of prayers and the names of certain items used within the service. The congregation was extremely welcoming of newcomers and observers, and they were very inviting when asking if I would make it to another service. It was an extraordinarily great experience and i feel like i learned a lot.

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